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AusPharm news

RGH E-Bulletin: Intravesical gemcitabine : 14/03/2011 :

The topic of this week's RGH E‑Bulletin is Intravesical gemcitabine

"The primary treatment of low risk superficial bladder cancer is usually by transurethral resection of bladder tumor (TURBT) followed by intravesical instillation of chemotherapy such as mitomycin or epirubicin. The objective of this approach is to destroy residual tumor cells that remain after TURBT. In patients with intermediate or high risk superficial bladder cancer, further courses of intravesical therapy are required to reduce tumor recurrence and progression, decreasing the likely need for cystectomy. Treatments with intravesical Bacillus Calmette Guerin (BCG), interferon, mitomycin (MMC), epirubicin, and valrubicin have been used with varying success for superficial bladder cancer. BCG is one of the most effective agents, but even so, only one-third of patients respond to this agent."

Click here to read the bulletin in full. The E‑Bulletins are archived on the AusPharmList website here.

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50% of pharmacists struggle to find time to properly counsel on scripts : 11/03/2011 :

The results of this week's poll suggest that fully 50% of pharmacists struggle to find the time to counsel on prescriptions 'a lot' or 'all the time'.

Little has changed since we ran the exact same poll in 2006 - the proportion then was also 50% (well 49% actually). That said, the number of pharmacists saying they have trouble counselling on scripts 'all the time' more than doubled between 2006 and 2011, going from 5% to 11%.

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Sydney robber gang targets pharmacy customers : 11/03/2011 :

A gang of robbers is targeting customers in Sydney pharmacies. Police say that the gang usually is comprised of four members, one adult and three children.

While the three children, all appearing sweet and innocent, divert their intended target with a show of friendliness, the eldest -- sneaks in from behind the person's back to expertly rifle through their pockets or bags for any valuables.

The picture below shows the gang in operation.

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Manual claiming for electronic prescription fee no longer required after July 1 : 11/03/2011 :

From July 1 2011 pharmacies wil no longer have to submit manual claims to claim the 15c electronic prescription fee. From that date, eligible PBS and RPBS prescriptions (excluding under co-payment prescriptions) will be identified through Online Claiming for PBS information. Payments will be made at the same time eligible prescriptions are assessed and paid. ‘Claim for payment’ forms and reports will no longer be required for PBS and RPBS prescriptions.

News of the new claim process was contained in the Autumn 2011 Medicare Bulletin Board. Bulletin Board is a quarterly newsletter covering the PBS and related issues for pharmacists and pharmacy assistants.

Other issues covered in the latest Bulletin Board include:

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2011 flu vaccines : 11/03/2011 :

The TGA has released details of the approved indications for the 6 influenza vaccines approved for use in Australia for 2011.

As a result of an excess number of cases of febrile reactions and febrile convulsions occurring in paediatric populations following immunisation with Fluvax in 2010, the 2011 vaccines vary in the age groups for which they are approved. Not all manufactureres were able to commit to active surveillance of children from 6 months to 9 years of age, to ensure effective monitoring of paediatric populations in Australia previously unexposed to these vaccines, and these manufacturers' vaccines are not approved for use in all age groups.

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STOP mandated in South Australia : 11/03/2011 :

The South Australian Government has mandated the use of Project STOP.

Currently around 60 per cent of the state’s pharmacies already use Project STOP - this decision will help close any potential gaps that may be exploited by pseudo runners. By taking this step, South Australia joins Queensland and Western Australia in requiring the use of Project STOP. 

The Pharmacy Guild welcomed the South Australian decision and believes other States and Territories should follow suit. “Project STOP has been so effective that it is worthy of 100 per cent support across Australia,” Guild National President, Kos Sclavos, said.

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TGA Transparency Review submissions : 10/03/2011 :

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has this week published on its website submissions received to its Transparency Review. The review is focusing on improving the TGA's transparency and reflects community concern about the lack of information made available by the TGA.

56 public submissions were received including from the the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and from a number of individual pharmacists.

All submissions to the Review are available on the TGA website here.

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Medicines Australia keeping the pressure on over Cabinet scrutiny of PBS listings : 10/03/2011 :

Peak pharma body Medicines Australia is continuing its push to have the government decision to have Cabinet review all new PBS listings reverrsed.

Medicines Australia CEO, Dr Brendan Shaw said yesterday that “Patients will now end up paying more for the medicines they need. This will hit ordinary Australians where it hurts – at the hip pocket. We should be a country that can afford to pay for the medicines that sick people need.”

“The Government has ignored the advice of its own clinical and health economics experts who have advised that these medicines should be available on the PBS,” he added.

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Poll: do you have time to counsel as you'd like to? : 09/03/2011 :

In 2011, in concert with most workers, pharmacists are needing to work both harder and more efficiently in order to ensure that the pharmacies they work in remain profitable. An issue that arises is whether or not pharmacists have time to adequately counsel patients on their prescriptions.

What's it like in your workplace? Please let us know by voting in this week's AusPharm online poll.

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PSA membership tops 15,000 for first time : 09/03/2011 :

Membership of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia has topped 15,000 for the first time in the Society’s history.

Commenting on the milestone, National President of the PSA, Warwick Plunkett, said the figure clearly showed the Society was the primary representative body for pharmacists across all sectors of the profession in Australia.

“The unification of PSA has given us added strength to represent our members and this is being reflected in a steady and ongoing increase in membership,” Mr Plunkett said.

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Pharmacy Board: registration delays not acceptable : 09/03/2011 :

The Pharmacy Board of Australia met in Melbourne 25 February 2011 at the national office of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). The Board considered a number of issues at the meeting and yesterday issued a communiqué detailing these.

Chief amongst these at present are concerns held by pharmacists and interns about registration renewal and initial registration delays. The Board says it believes these delays are not acceptable and is working with AHPRA to implement changes.

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CHOICE: Should pharmacies be selling 'health' products that donít work? : 09/03/2011 :

Consumer group CHOICE has released another report questioning whether pharmacies should be selling 'health' products that come with no credible evidence that they work.

According to CHOICE people expect pharmacies to sell health related products that are safe and effective - particularly if the products make clinical or therapeutic claims. However, a CHOICE pharmacy shadow shop found that whilst some pharmacists offered insightful, medically sound advice there were others who were indifferent or who gave advice on quack products with no scientific or medical basis.

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PSA launches in-pharmacy support program for professional services : 08/03/2011 :

Research has shown that while pharmacists welcome the opportunity to deliver professional services, they are also looking for more assistance in making the changes required to integrate these services into their everyday practice.

In response to this, and to coincide with the start of the 5th Community Pharmacy Agreement, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia yesterday launched a new program to support pharmacies in the implementation and management of professional services. 

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NAPSA aims to make a difference : 08/03/2011 :

The National Australian Pharmacy Students’ Association (NAPSA) announced yesterday that it has partnered with the Day of Difference Foundation as its new three-year partner for the students' annual Charity Cup initiative.

All fourteen affiliated branches from across Australia will participate in fundraising efforts during the month of April, which will enable pharmacy students to make a difference in the lives of critically injured children.

The NAPSA Charity Cup campaign has successfully raised over $17,000 for Fred Hollows Indigenous Program over the past two years.

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Alternative medicine, superstition of our age : 07/03/2011 :

In an expansive op ed in Friday's Fairfax broadsheets, consultant psychiatrist Tanveer Ahmed puts the view that complementary medicine is a quasi religious phenomenon.

However, peak OTC medicine body ASMI says that the role of complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) in the wider health system should be acknowledged rather than dismissed, and consumers who choose to use these products and treatments should be assisted to make informed choices rather than be categorised as superstitious.

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ABS launches most comprehensive health survey ever conducted : 07/03/2011 :

The Australian Health Survey (AHS) 2011-2013 was launched over the weekend. The AHS builds on previous health surveys allowing comparisons of health information over time such as obesity, smoking, health conditions and how we manage our health.

To be conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) the survey will include measures of what Australians are eating and how physically active they are. It will also collect other health information, such as whether people have been diagnosed with arthritis or heart disease. In a first, the survey will ask people to consider a visit to a pathology centre so that information on health risks factors can be derived from blood and urine samples.

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New report boost for $1bn clinical trials industry : 07/03/2011 :

The Federal Government’s Clinical Trials Action Group Final Report was released last week at the Medicines Australia Parliamentary dinner by the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Senator Kim Carr. Acording to Medicines Australia the report clears a path for Australia to become more competitive in attracting global R&D investment.

The Clinical Trials Action Group was set up in October 2009 to help boost Australia's position as a preferred destination to conduct clinical trials. The Group's report carries more than 20 recommendations, largely aimed at improving patient recruitment and introducing a more efficient process of initiating new clinical trials in Australia.

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RGH E-Bulletin: Tocilizumab for rheumatoid arthritis : 07/03/2011 :

The topic of this week's RGH E‑Bulletin is Tocilizumab for rheumatoid arthritis.

"Recent years have seen significant advances in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), including the development of biological drugs targeting cytokine mediators such as tumour necrosis factor (TNF) and interlukin 1 (IL-1). Interlukin 6 (IL-6) is a new target for biological therapy in rheumatoid arthritis. IL-6 is a cytokine involved in the inflammatory cascade and is implicated in acute and chronic inflammatory responses. Elevated levels of IL-6 contribute to the inflammatory process in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and correlate positively with disease activity."

Click here to read the bulletin in full. The E‑Bulletins are archived on the AusPharmList website here.

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GSK to disclose payments to healthcare professionals : 05/03/2011 :

GlaxoSmithKline announced yesterday its intention to publish, by June 2011, the total amount of fees paid to Australian healthcare professionals for speaking and consulting services during 2010.

The final figure will include all grants, donations, consultancy fees and sponsorships made to healthcare professionals for research programs, advisory committee work and educational projects. This figure will be updated and made available publicly on a regular basis.

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'Bad decision' says Medicines Australia Chair : 04/03/2011 :

Speaking at the Medicines Australia (MA) parliamentary dinner this week MA Chair Will Delaat said that MA was extremely concerned to see the Government’s announcement last Friday that Cabinet had deferred the listing of seven new medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and, further, that ALL new submissions to the PBS will require Cabinet approval, not just those costing over $10m a year.

The deferred listing of the seven medicines came despite advice from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee – the Government’s own clinical and health economics experts Mr Delaat pointed out – that the medicines were value for money and should be listed.

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